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SHAVONE x Swoopes
Make-up Nimai Marsden, hair Fesa NuPhotography Samuel Trotter, Cristine Armosilla

Nike swoosh brows & bubble braids: SHAVONE.’s tribute to a basketball icon


TextAlex Peters

To celebrate International Women’s Month, the musician and tech executive teams up with Spotify to honour the trailblazing Sheryl Swoopes, with Fesa Nu’s jaw-dropping beauty looks

For her entire career, SHAVONE. has been blazing a trail, breaking the mold, opening doors and paving the way for women of colour, building support systems for and then amplifying the voices of the underrepresented. If that sounds like the same buzzwords that you constantly hear being thrown around, let me assure you, SHAVONE. has the credentials to back up the hype. 

To sum up what she has already accomplished involves a laundry list of impressive titles and historic firsts. The musician, tech executive, and entrepreneur started her career at Twitter where she was the first Black woman hired to its PR team, and where she helped found the company’s first employee resource group for African American staff. Then Instagram came calling, and she took up the role of Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications during which she worked on a joint Instagram and Spotify Black History Month campaign celebrating #BlackGirlMagic. 

Next up was a project of her own. In 2018, SHAVONE. founded Magic in Her Melanin, a creative collective and in-house agency that bridges the gap between creatives of colour and the tech industry. Alongside this work, she is also currently the Director of Communications and Creative Partnerships at VSCO, a Ford-signed model, and a musician.

With all that in mind, it won’t surprise you to find out she has a big project in honour of International Women’s Month and celebrating the legacy of Sheryl Swoopes, an equally impressive lady with four WNBA championships, three WNBA MVP awards, and three Olympic gold medals to her name. In 1995, Swoopes became the first female basketball player to have a signature shoe named after her – the Nike Air Swoopes – and in 2005 she became one of the first female American athletes to come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

To pay tribute to Swoopes and Black women trailblazing their own paths, SHAVONE. has teamed up with Spotify on a campaign debuting her latest single “Sheryl Swoopes”, alongside a portrait series and a playlist curated by Swoopes with all her favorite songs. “I have dedicated my life’s work to community and creating equity for those who are underrepresented and overlooked. If we don’t do this work for ourselves and our communities, who will?” SHAVONE. says. “In many ways, I hope that this act of giving Sheryl her flowers and celebrating her legacy will inspire others across generations to do the same and pay it forward.” 

We spoke to SHAVONE. and her team about the campaign and Swoopes-inspired beauty looks. 

Why did you want to pay tribute to Sheryl Swoopes? What does she represent to you? 

SHAVONE.: Growing up through elementary school to high school, I played basketball. I was also a major sneakerhead and overall streetwear enthusiast who really looked to women like Sheryl Swoopes as an example of coloring outside of the lines and breaking the stereotypes of what “women” were supposed to wear, do, and be according to societal stereotypes. I was very young during Sheryl’s time on the court but my two older brothers and Dad were hugely influential for me as well, in also just providing me the space to be myself and exposing me to sports culture early on.

My oldest brother JJ (producer name James Newtron) produced the Sheryl Swoopes song for me and this was a really special moment for us because he made the beat with me and my admiration for Sheryl in mind. My writing process was really about embodying that same raw and unapologetic confidence Sheryl has inspired in so many women and generations. I want this song to be a positive unapologetic anthem and banger for any womxn who hear it.

What was the idea behind the look for the images? 

SHAVONE.:. With the vision for this project, I really wanted to pay homage to the style and energy Black women brought to the court during 90s basketball, with a nod to futurism and my style lens. I had been following Monte’s (Christo, creative director and stylist) work for years and personally teamed up with him on this project because he’s an incredible creative and visionary when it comes to fashion nostalgia as a point of influence for modern-day 2000s and 90s style looks. Fesa (Nu, hair stylist) is an incredible artist that has been on my radar for years, as well as Nimai (Marsden, make-up artist). I wanted to bring this group together to create something powerful, influenced and unique.

The hair looks are incredible – what was the inspiration behind the styles?

FESA NU: I was really moved by references from SHAVONE.’s mood board showcasing some of my own work of the tassel hair and bubble braids. I found it very easy to get inspired with SHAVONE. and I wanted to recreate these inspired looks but add a bit of a twist. Monte on wardrobe, had an amazing idea of incorporating hair coming out of hat and I wanted each look after to be a seamless transition. I got really inspired by the Nike check eyebrows and Sheryl Swoops song, so I incorporated that energy into the hair. You can see my rendition of swoop hair for the look with the Nike check eyebrows!

Where did the idea for the Nike eyebrows come from?

SHAVONE.:  I am a huge Nike enthusiast and “Nike head” as my brothers call it! I had the swoopes and checks everywhere in my initial creative direction for the looks and make-up and told Monte I wanted to get really ethereal with the swoop concept and he took it THERE. Nike is a huge part of Sheryl’s groundbreaking story as well – with her being the first woman athlete to have her own Air Swoopes sneaker with Nike. 

NIMAI: It was actually Monte’s idea to do the Nike brow but I felt painting it on would be challenging because eyebrows are not flat and they move. So, then we thought it would be dope to make them 3D and Monte printed them on card stock paper, and I carefully cut them out. I measured my own eyebrow with a tape measure to give him proper sizing and it worked out! 

What message did you want to send with the beauty looks? 

NIMAI: The message I wanted to send with the beauty looks was that glam doesn’t have to be full out or traditional. And that clean skin always slays! I wanted to make SHAVONE. feel beautiful but still feel like herself and keep the energy of the Sheryl Swoopes song concept. 

MONTE CHRISTO: As far as wardrobe goes, the category and direction from SHAVONE. was WNBA but make it futuristic. I strive to maintain the element of surprise when it comes to design and styling so everything in the shoot was customized in some way shape or form. The message is "Originality over the hype!" who cares what everyone else is doing lock into your ideas and DO YOU!

What were your go-to products to create the looks?

NIMAI: My go-to products for the look were Skinglass oil, Fenty Beauty concealer and lipgloss, Uoma Beauty Double Take Sculpt & Strobe Stick, and Mehron Metallic powder in Silver. 

FESA NU: My go-to products used were Edge Booster to sleek SHAVONE.’s hair, Got2b hair spray, Rastafri braiding hair for the hair sculpting. 

MONTE CHRISTO: When it comes to jewelry there is no one on the planet that does it like @roryrockmore he made us the flyest custom (1 of 1) Nike Swoosh (inspired) SHVN (SHAVONE.) earrings & pendant. He is my go to guy for all things custom.

Who in the WNBA today has the best hair?

SHAVONE.:  I have seen Elizabeth Cambage slaying down the internet in looks recently, with a lot of women empowerment initiatives as well (which makes her slay that much doper!) This hair look with Adidas caught my eye in particular.

Photography Samuel Trotter and Cristine Jane, production Alexandria Martin and SHAVONE., creative direction and styling Monte Christo, SHAVONE., and Paris Cole, director of photography/editor Ryan DeForeest, hair Fesa Nu, barber Dei Jones, make-up Nimai Marsden, set design Paris Cole, special thanks Jacky Wright & Benji Liu


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